The ‘Hoff is Big in Germany
When the expansion cousin Buffalo Sabres come to town on Saturday, they’ll feature on their roster an ex-Canuck that recently left the team under controversial terms who chased the ice time and glory over a shot at the Cup.
Clearly the two parties had different goals, but to hear some fans talk letting this player go would kill the Canucks‘ chances to win a full 16 playoff games.
Which is why on Saturday all eyes will be on Christian Ehrhoff.
Acquired for the bargain basement price of busted prospects Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi from San Jose in 2009, Ehrhoff put up 96 points in two seasons with Vancouver, sparking the powerplay to the top of the league and coinciding with the Sedins’ breakout Art Ross seasons.
When Ehrhoff’s contract expired after the Finals, his options from Gillis were simple: either take a hometown discount or thank you for your services.
For Christian however, the slim blueline pickings in the upcoming UFA crop ensured a guaranteed windfall.
Realizing that Ehrhoff wouldn’t sign for anywhere near what Kevin Bieksa re-upped for, the German defender was shipped out to the Islanders for a pick before the Islanders eventually shipped him of to Buffalo, where the Sabres opened the bank and signed him to a 10 year $40 million deal.
Two questions persisted all summer: would the Canucks miss Ehrhoff, and was he really worth all that money? The answer is pretty simple, nope. Here’s why!
1. It’s Da Money
There’s no doubting Ehrhoff is a talented offensive blueliner, but is he retirement contract good? I realize that with a new owner and tons of cashing suddenly lining their pockets, it was very tempting to make a splash on July 1, but did Buffalo really make the best move by spending it on the first half-decent player that became available?
The idea of these contracts is that the player outperforms his cap hit in the beginning to negate any complications when he enters his twilight, but looking at his stats, is there any indication that he’s worth a $40 million gamble or outperforming a $4 mill cap hit even this year?
2. In His Defence…
If you checked out that last link and saw Ehrhoff’s line from last year’s playoffs, it looks pretty good. 12 points in 23 games, second best among defencemen in the playoffs. What isn’t included in that line is his ugly -13, worst on the Canucks. In his defence, he was battling a crippling shoulder injury but it serves to highlight the dichotomy of Christian Ehrhoff. Talented offensively, but offensively bad on defence.
It’s not a stretch to say that Christian Ehrhoff isn’t a physical threat, and the shoulder injury is an example of how when the going gets tough, the Ehrhoff seems to wilt.
The Canucks have been battling questions about toughness all year, so with that in mind watch this “fight” Ehrhoff had with Troy Brouwer earlier this year. What intimidation.
3. Edler Ain’t Right
For Christian Ehrhoff to be an offensive dynamo, he had to be played on the left side. This complicated things for Alex Edler who had no choice but to play the right side since Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa‘s bromance is too strong to split apart.
It worked but it wasn’t an ideal plan, especially since Edler had to be the last one back on the multiple instances when Ehrhoff pinched or carried the puck. Not a horrible use of Alex Edler but also not ideal.
On his natural left side this year, Edler went to the All-Star Game, and until massively cooling down in the past month was on pace for career highs in scoring and was even getting some Norris talk. Coincidence?
4. That Powerplay Is Still Good
This isn’t the ideal time to pump the powerplay’s tires considering it’s both slumping and without the second unit pivot that gave it some spark, but in the year as a whole it certainly doesn’t seem like the Canucks have missed a beat on the man advantage without Ehrhoff.
With both the powerplay and goals for, the Canucks are pretty much exactly at the same pace they were hitting last year.
The Canucks have simply filled in the loss of Ehrhoff collectively like a gecko regrows his tail when he loses the old one.
5. About That Fourth Round They Got From NYI
Good news and bad news about that pick. Bad news is that the Canucks won’t ever use it. Good news is because it was shipped to Columbus to pry Sami Pahlsson from the Blue Jackets.
The Canucks could have held on to Ehrhoff right up until July 1 hoping that Christian changed his mind and joined the cult of Canuck, but it was obvious where his priorities lay and if this week has proven anything it’s that once a player’s loyalties not lying with the team and the Vancouver Canucks is outed, Mike Gillis is all business in shipping you out.
Obviously the plan at the time for the returned pick wasn’t specifically to add Pahlsson at the deadline, but it did give Gillis that option when the time came.
In conclusion, Christian Ehrhoff is a land of contrast. Thank you